Loud mufflers drive him crazy

Dave of Grand Haven Township asked, "What happened to the law that requires vehicles to have mufflers?"
Mark Brooky
Jul 12, 2013


Dave further asked: "A lot of trucks, cars and motorcycles have straight pipes, or straight-through mufflers. I don't mind getting up in the morning, but not at 4:30 a.m. when a car, truck or motorcycle goes by and rattles the windows on the house. Why don't the police issue tickets?"


Lt. Steve Kempker of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department said Michigan law has a standard for measuring excessive noise levels from vehicles. In the Michigan Vehicle Code, MCL 257.707(c) provides the decibel levels at which the noise is considered excessive, while MCL 257.707(e) addresses the procedure for conducting a test.

"It is important to note that, while these objective levels are provided, a vehicle below these levels may still be in violation," Kempker explained.

Furthermore, MCL 257.707(b) requires an exhaust system to be maintained in good working order to prevent excessive or unusual noise, which can be subjective, Kempker said. The code also requires that an exhaust system be equipped with a muffler, and a resonator and tailpipe, if originally equipped. This precludes the modification of an exhaust system beyond the replacement of worn-out parts, Kempker said.

What to know a lot more? Kempker provided more on the state code regarding mufflers and noise:

257.707 Muffler, engine, power mechanism, and exhaust system; requirements; prohibitions.
(1) A motor vehicle, including a motorcycle or moped, shall at all times be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise and annoying smoke. A person shall not remove, destroy, or damage any of the baffles contained in the muffler, nor shall a person use a muffler cutout, bypass, or similar device upon a motorcycle or moped on a highway or street.
(2) The engine and power mechanism of a motor vehicle shall be so equipped and adjusted as to prevent the escape of excessive fumes or smoke.
(3) A motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with a properly operating exhaust system which shall include a tailpipe and resonator on a vehicle where the original design included a tailpipe and resonator.

257.707b Exhaust system; requirements.
(1) A motor vehicle, while being operated on a highway or street, shall be equipped with an exhaust system in good working order to prevent excessive or unusual noise and shall be equipped to prevent noise in excess of the limits established in this act.
(2) For purposes of sections 707a to 707f, a motor vehicle does not include a special mobile equipment.

257.707c Noise limitations; prohibitions.
(1) After April 1, 1978, a motor vehicle shall not be operated or driven on a highway or street if the motor vehicle produces total noise exceeding 1 of the following limits at a distance of 50 feet except as provided in subdivisions (b)(iii) and (c)(iii):
(a) A motor vehicle with a gross weight or gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 pounds or more, combination vehicle with gross weight or gross vehicle weight ratings of 8,500 pounds or more.
(i) Ninety DBA if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is greater than 35 miles per hour.
(ii) Eighty-six DBA if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is not more than 35 miles per hour.
(iii) Eighty-eight DBA under stationary run-up test.
(b) A motorcycle or a moped:
(i) Eighty-six DBA if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is greater than 35 miles per hour.
(ii) Eighty-two DBA if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is not more than 35 miles per hour.
(iii) Ninety-five DBA under stationary run-up test at 75 inches.
(c) A motor vehicle or a combination of vehicles towed by a motor vehicle not covered in subdivision (a) or (b):
(i) Eighty-two DBA if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is greater than 35 miles per hour.
(ii) Seventy-six DBA if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is not more than 35 miles per hour.
(iii) Ninety-five DBA under stationary run-up test 20 inches from the end of the tailpipe.
(2) A dealer shall not sell or offer for sale for use upon a street or highway in this state a new motor vehicle manufactured after April 1, 1978, which produces a maximum noise exceeding the following limits:
(a) A motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 pounds or more—83 DBA.
(b) A motorcycle or a moped—83 DBA.
(c) A motor vehicle not covered in subdivision (a) or (b)—80 DBA.

(3) A person shall not operate a vehicle on a highway or street if the vehicle has a defect in the exhaust system which affects sound reduction, is not equipped with a muffler or other noise dissipative device, or is equipped with a cutout, bypass, amplifier, or a similar device.

(4) A person, either acting for himself or herself or as the agent or employee of another, shall not sell, install, or replace a muffler or exhaust part that causes the motor vehicle to which the muffler or exhaust part is attached to exceed the noise limits established by this act or a rule promulgated under this act.

(5) A person shall not modify, repair, replace, or remove a part of an exhaust system causing the motor vehicle to which the system is attached to produce noise in excess of the levels established by this act, or operate a motor vehicle so altered on a street or highway.

(6) A dealer shall not sell a used or secondhand motor vehicle for use upon a street or highway which is not in compliance with this act.

257.707d Violations; penalties; liability; prima facie evidence.
(1) A person who violates section 707c(2), (4), or (6) is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $100.00.
(2) A person who violates section 707b or 707c(1), (3), or (5) is responsible for a civil infraction.
(3) A person who, at the time of installation, knowingly installs a muffler or exhaust system which exceeds the decibel limits of this act shall be liable to the person who receives a citation for violation of 707c for the amount of not less than $100.00, plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs.
(4) If it is shown that the noise level of a motor vehicle is in excess of the DBA levels established in this act, that evidence shall be prima facie evidence that the motor vehicle was producing excessive noise in violation of this act.
(5) A violation of section 707c(4) or (6) by a dealer licensed under this act is prima facie evidence of a fraudulent act under section 249.

Do you have a question for the Tribune? E-mail it to news@grandhaventribune.com, and type MAILBAG in the subject line. Or mail it the old-fashioned way to: Grand Haven Tribune, MAILBAG, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417. We'll do our best to get you an answer! A new Mailbag appears on grandhaventribune.com at 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.



Sooo...We all know there are laws on the books. The question wa
s "Why don't the police issue tickets?" Care to try again, Mr. Brooky?


And, while you are at it, explain what a decibel is, dB or DBA, doesn’t matter. Should be interesting.

The sound, yes the sound, music to your ears. For those of us that have “tuned” our exhaust systems, it’s the sound of the 50’s. Some say it is better than…….and yes, we did that back then too.


I'll explain why enforcement is lax. Noise control laws using enforcement methods by chasing sound "levels" fails. Your legislature and local enforcement agency is operating under a false premise to positively improve the traffic soundscape. Motorcycle noise control traffic laws do not need to define operation levels by any numerical decibel threshold value. All highway motorcycles products entered into commerce are low-noise-exhaust-emission federally regulated vehicles known to be noise compliant for the total sound (most models are found to emit total noise far under the federal limit). The installed devices that raise standard operational volumes are sound measured on the specific motorcycle models they are designed to fit, to disqualify their use by the Code of Federal Regulations Part 205 D&E. under the Noise Control Act of 1972. No scientific sound recording is needed to charge a person for operating with an illicit "act". The act to modify a standard product with the result of raising it's volume and operate it on a public way, can be defined under reasonable suspicion without any need to obtain a numerical decibel threshold value. The visual physical evidence can offer reasonable doubt to base a charge. Only the preponderance of the evidence should be needed to find a defendant guilty in traffic court. Your state needs to institutionally demand a defendant provide court evidence their modifications did not result in raising a standard volume to remove the charge, by an after-the-fact, scientific sound recording offered by the procedure defined in Appendix A.3 of the SAE J-1287 provision named Comparison Measurement, where two exhaust are measured on one standard motorcycle at any same rpm, without any pre-determined threshold value. If the modification has shown a standard volume increase, the data can not offer the charge to be removed. The police method is then free to use any perceived feel for excessive or unusual sound during the enforcement of the noise control law, including well informed opinion without violating the rights of an operator to modify. This type of enforcement method has been found constitutional by the US Supreme court.

The answer to your question, I am telling you that your statute and enforcement effort is based in chasing sound levels, and by your direct personal evidence and others, this miserably fails. Enforce illicit acts commonly known by like minded people, to raise standard volumes, do not try to pressure reluctant police to pursue hard to enforce operational levels. Require all authorities in charge of enforcement of this type of noise control, who own highway motorcycles to be yearly required to present their motorcycle to a comparison measurement test before a registration can be issued, to insure proper education and motivation to apply these traffic code requirement on their enforcement subjects. Simply prohibit the raising of a standard volume on a low-noise-exhaust-emission product, and operating it on a public way, as a result of ANY noise control device manipulation. Problem solved.


Blah, Blah, Blah......what a load of drivel. Why don't you take all your time and energy devoted to this topic and apply it to something worthwhile, something that will will change lives, or make the world a better place to live in.....noisy bikes, or cars, or boats don't even make it into the top 100 of real problems in the world today.


Police departments nation wide report m c noise complaints as the number one call. You're blah blah statement reports the fact to others that varying sound energy levels inside a brain is cognitively handled differently then another, to not be a nuisance source. We don't live in a world where every person is "lessthanamused". We live in a world were most like minded people agree noise controls are needed to help protect the soundscape. Obviously missing enforcement means the noise control is missing. This issue points to the general break down of society. On many levels this is the premier fightback in history. The fight goes on with or without a person not generally effected by excessive motorcycle noise.


Good lord.....more jibber jabber. "We don't live in a world where every person is "lessthanamused"....What does that even mean??? "This issue points to the general break down of society" Really?? You can't think of other issues that would better point to the general breakdown of society?

I'm not sure why you've got such a hardon for bikers, maybe your mother wouldn't let you have one and all the other kids made fun of you because of that, but really, if you've spent the last 37(!??!) years researching motorcyle noise and haven't made any progress in curtailing it than I would suggest that you've led a wasted life. Maybe you should've looked into ear plugs years ago and found something else to focus your anger on and occupy your time.

There are many sources of noise in the world today worse than that of a motorcycle. It's a temporary irritant at most in the five or so seconds that it takes to go past my house. If you want to attack some noise issues how about you look into these morons with their gas powered leaf blowers. I've got two neighbors that use theirs twice a week for 20 minutes at a time, creating a constant source of noise that invades my house the entire time. If these OCD idiots require such a clean sidewalk and yard I'd suggest they buy a broom and a rake and stop with the completely unnecessary racket.

BTW...is this you perchance?


Loud boat=ticket. (105 db or louder 10 foot from the transom) Loud stereo (In Grand Haven)=ticket. Loud car=ticket. Loud motorcycle=excused by the law enforcement community. (Look at whats parked outside the state police, sherriff and local police stations. Some of the officers have the loudest bikes. I had the opportunity to speak with a local (retired now) judge about this issue. He stated that "those bikes" were made that way. When I explained that , at the time, GHDPS had two Harley Davidson patrol bikes and that were very quiet, he gave me a sincere deer in the head lights look. I informed him that these loud bike owners spend large amounts of cash for this "sound" as they call it. Speaking with two Sheriff deputies on the subject, they claim that if a ticket is issued, the rider will just install the baffle in the exhaust and take it in for inspection. The list of bs answers I received go on and on. Squealing your tires in your car is considered exhibition driving and tickets are handed out for it. How is this different from revving up the loud motorcycle for a little look at me time?.Oh, sorry, forgot the exhaust is louder than the horn. Our enforcement community decided not to enforce this issue. Period. Maybe that's what the selective enforcement signs really mean........


To an extent, I can sympathize with people bothered by loud vehicles, especially if being revved up, etc... within the city limits. However, when it comes to motorcycles, I sincerely believe "Loud Pipes Save Lives". Many people do not watch for motorcycles as they should. A motorcycle colliding with a car (or a deer) at 45mph is much, much different than two cars colliding (or a single car hitting a deer) at 45mph. Not to mention animals have a tendancy to not run out into the road if they hear a loud motorcycle approaching. Another example might be that the other day as I was driving my vehicle on Mercury Drive (45mph zone), a teenage boy riding his bicycle, crossed the opposing lane while looking in the other direction and rode out in front of me. I had to jump on the brakes with tires squeeling. Then and only then, after hearing my tires squeeling did he look in my direction and stop... nearly 1/2 in my lane, with me on the shoulder. My point is, there was no time for me to blow my horn and if not for my tires squeeling causing him to look, the outcome of this incident would not have been good. If I had been on a motorcycle with loud pipes, that extra noise would most likey have gotten his attention long before his careless attempt to cross the road.


In each of your examples, a better defensive driving strategy without the use of illicit "acts" would of mitigated the danger better. Perhaps this is why the leading motorcycle accident causation studies conclude the type of motorcycle found over-represented in the studies were modified conventional motorcycles, like those with loud pipes. In 37 years of researching this issue, no biker has reversed this fact to me. I believe you have a belief, but the believe in this myth, just may get you killed or worse, unable to ride next season. The fact is motorcycle safety experts don't rely on "belief systems" in order to lower risks. There is a reason excessive noise use is not found anywhere in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation curriculum.


Better defensive driving strategy? LOL. I have been riding motorcycles for 37 years and have never received a single traffic citation or have been responsible for any "close calls" due to my actions. I couldn't begin to count the number of times I have avoided collisions due to other drivers not paying attention or especially, not giving a second look for motorcycles. I think my defensive driving speaks for itself. I, nor can anyone else force other drivers to be more cautious. This is their personal choice. Your quip stating I may get killed or worse, unable to ride next season was nothing more than a weak sucker punch that only connected with air and leads me to believe you do not like motorcycles to begin with. As far as traffic research and the like, I would be a fool if I believed everything I was told by any research organization. However, it does sound as though you allow yourself to be manipulated by anyone with a pocket protector and a clipboard. I believe what I know for a fact, not smoke and mirrors or exaggerated misinformation. Loud Pipes Save Lives.


Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.